Boro Hoping To Sting Hornets in Season Opener
By Robert Nichols
Friday 11 Sep 2020 11:49:00
Browse all Match Previews articles


Boro boss Neil Warnock takes his Boro side to Watford for the season opener this evening knowing that it will be such a tough challenge against the team relegated from the Premier. Watford fell through the trap door after Villa surged ahead of them in a frantic finale. Now Boro face a squad with lots of familiar names from their Premier campaigning. They might have eleven injuries but as Neil Warnock quipped we only have eleven players. But can we make spirit count? Are there any other advantages we have to surprise them?

Boro kick off the new season at 7.45pm at Vicarage Road and with the pandemic still a real threat it will be a behind closed doors affair except that SKY cameras will be beaming pictures into our homes. Our much reduced squad faces a series of tests at the start of the campaign. Neil Warnock half joked about this to me:

“I think there is somebody at the FA that has done the fixture list if I am honest. To have Watford and Bournemouth first two games and then Bristol City and Cardiff in four days away from home. Somebody really is taking the mickey aren't they out of us.”

A real challenge then for a squad that has lost ten players and as yet only been bolstered by two in the other direction, with goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli joining centre half Grant Hall just yesterday. Grant Hall was described as a Steady Eddie by Warnock at the pre-match press conference yesterday, held early to got Bettinelli's signing over the line. But will the registration be in time to start in front of the SKY cameras tonight?

TV pictures this evening should show if there are still any battle scars within the hosts squad, reduced by injuries but surely also still smarting from a painful and all recent relegation. Painful of course because so much was self-inflicted by that shock dismissal of boss Nigel Pearson with only two games remaining.

I wondered whether this might turn out to be the best time to play Watford, not just because of their injuries but also because you have to wonder if those shock waves have really abated yet.

Neil Warnock tempered my enthusiasm, when I put this theory to him.

“I came down with Cardiff a few years ago and it is difficult but I think it is better when you have sorted out the lads that are going to go because you do lose some of your players, you have got to with the wages that they are on but most teams have cuts in wages when you get relegated.” Boro fans remember this process all too well when Gareth Southgate had to wave goodbye to much of our remaining talent after coming down.

“I wouldn't imagine they would have thought they would be going down, regarding their contracts so I would imagine they have still got a lot on that Premier League wages so there a lot of difficult things behind the scenes,” Warnock sounded reassuring here but quickly brought things back to reality.

“But on the pitch there are eleven top class players playing against us and if we are not ready and don't play to our very best we come away with a beating so we have to be ready for that.”

The pictures will not lie tonight we will need to be right on top of our game if we are to compete and that means we cannot afford to allow Watford's strikeforce any of the room that we gifted Shrewsbury last week. The Hornets might have injuries but at present they have a lot in reserve, players with far more top leagues experience than the Shrews.

Boro will need to stamp more authority through the middle. Hopefully the returning McNair and Saville can do this. Both internationals would have been buoyed up their creditable 10 man draw away in Romania but hopefully they are not dwelling on being taken to the cleaners by Norway. The performance of the Norwegian forwards is a warning of just how humbling it can be if you cannot keep the windows and doors closed against top class forwards.

One other unknown factor that might work in our favour this evening is Watford having yet another new manager in the dug out. Veteran keeper, Ben Foster, claimed this week that his new boss Serbian Vladimir Ivić is working the players like dogs. Clearly Ivic is looking at the long game and just how many matches the players will need to face in this COVID crammed fixture campaign. But if he doesn't get off to a good start then pressure will quickly mount at trigger happy Watford and there may be no long term for Ivic.

Interesting then on how old warhorse Warnock says he likes to prepare for contests.

“I always look at managers I play against, not clubs. I don't look at whether they come down from the Premier League or whether they come up from Division One I just look at managers etc that's how I concentrate on my game.”

I wonder what he will see when he delves into Ivic, new to England as well as English football and coming into a club no doubt absolutely obsessed with bouncing back, especially after so much unfriendly friendly fire on Pearson.

Can Boro find the firepower through new captain Britt and his brace bagging strike partner Ashley Fletcher? We will need to get them the ball in all the right areas and Warnock believes he knows how to do that. But at the same time we must be water tight at the back and that defending will start at the pinnacle of the attack.

Which brings us all back to the start, can Warnock's Boro continue our strident away form and sting the Hornets on their return to the Championship? Let's make it a crash landing for Watford tonight at Vicarage Road.

Come On Boro and Up The Boro

Are You A Potential FansOnline Site Manager?
If you would like to run a site for a team not already featured on FansOnline, please get in touch and we will be happy to create the site for you.

Click here to contact us if you have what it takes to become a fansonline site manager

Advertise On
Showcase your products and services to our members at some of the best rates in the industry.

With various advertising opportunities and placements why not get in touch to discuss your requirements today?

Click here to contact us to discuss your advertising needs.

Fansonline Home | About Fansonline | Contact Fansonline | Privacy Policy | TOS

Copyright © 2008 to 2020 Ltd Ltd
Brentnall Center
Gilkes Street